South Carolina capital city looking to require reporting of lost, stolen guns

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

Stolen guns represent a very real problem, one many communities are trying to figure out how to deal with. Universal background check laws won’t do anything for what should be obvious reasons. Neither will any of a host of other laws.

In Columbia, SC, they’re hoping a new measure similar to ones on the books in other places will help them deal with the issue.

On Tuesday, Columbia Public Safety Committee decided to pass a reporting ordinance for lost or stolen guns on to City Council for further discussion and possible approval at the next council meeting.

Towards the beginning of the year, councilwoman Dr. Aditi Bussells began working on a gun ordinance that would require Columbia residents to report if their gun is lost or stolen.

After partnering with the Columbia Police Department to gather data, Dr. Bussells, and Columbia Police Chief, Skip Holbrook believe this ordinance would be a step to end community gun violence.

“We seize over 800 guns every single year and only a quarter of them were ever reported lost or stolen, so this is a huge issue in our community,” Holbrook explained.

The newly proposed ordinance would require citizens to report their lost or stolen gun within 24 hours of them noticing it has gone missing.

Except, I don’t believe those numbers, for one thing.

Oh, I have no doubt that only a quarter of the serial numbers turned up as stolen guns. The problem is that not everyone records their firearms’ serial numbers. As such, when they’re stolen, they can’t provide that information to police.

It’s unlikely the law is going to change that, either.

If it does, then you’re going to have a huge problem. After all, people aren’t going to have those numbers, so they’ll likely be punished for failing to provide them, which is really just victim-blaming.

Yes, I know they can trace guns and often do, but I’m still skeptical of those numbers.

More likely than requiring serial numbers, the law will probably just require someone to say their guns were stolen, then provide the model. However, even there, such a law will be difficult to enforce.

After all, plenty of people own firearms they rarely even look at. They can just say they didn’t realize it was stolen in the first place. As people are innocent until proven guilty, it’ll be on the city to prove they knew and should have known it was gone.

And really, the idea that this will actually end “gun violence” in Columbia is beyond idiotic. Criminals get guns from a number of places, including stealing them. Creating a law designed to be exclusively enforced on the lawful owner of some of these guns isn’t likely to have much impact on the criminals who steal them or those who trade in stolen weapons.

What it will do, at most, is create a revenue stream for the city on the backs of those who had their guns stolen but didn’t report it to the police for various reasons.